INTRODUCTION


There seems to be a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) and in the absence of my being able to read about other people's experiences, I instead offer you my own "Great Big Retirement Adventure."

My husband (Mister E) and I have moved from the initial concept through the planning stages to implementation and this site is intended to record the whole process. What I am seeking from retirement is now very different to what I thought I was planning and has gradually developed into a quest for fitness and a desire for simplification, with a transition away from both a highly organised lifestyle and the personality traits reflecting a pedantic professional career. Indeed I recently described myself as "a goofy idiot" who enjoys smiling at sunflowers; a far cry from the pre-retirement professional and an indication of just how far I have travelled.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. The blog is in reverse chronological order but popular posts and those highlighting our journey are specifically pinpointed below on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the summary or wisdom we have acquired or even our have done list with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.




Friday, 31 October 2014

End of October



It was the warmest Halloween day on record today apparently. Certainly my memories of carving turnip (we had never seen a pumpkin) lanterns as a child is always against a background of duffle coats and scarves and perhaps occasionally a touch of snow too.

This year I have actually succeeded in growing pumpkins, both in my greenhouse and outside, as we have revelled in one of the driest summers for several years. I know you have no control in these matters but it really was a superb summer, weather-wise, to retire.

Now of course, record or no record, the nights are drawing in and there have been rain showers a plenty over the last few weeks as well as some strong, blustery northerly winds. Mind, such weather is not unwelcome. My garden may have been looking great during the last few months but it has been at the expense of neglecting the interior of my home as well as some much needed household "admin."

So this week I have been able to find time to concentrate on a new Future Learn course on Creative Writing coupled with those routine chores that I love to ignore. If there's time tomorrow, I have even sorted a pumpkin recipe or two that I want to try.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

An Exhibition of Modern Art


Last Sunday we went to Edinburgh for two days. One of the highlights was visiting the National Gallery of Modern Art where there is currently an exhibition entitled Generation - 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland.

Well I'll give retirement its due. I now discover that not only do I have the time to enjoy a display of this kind but also, now my brain is no longer cluttered by work related issues, I can actually remember the exhibits and continue to derive excitement from the memory of them.

Like all displays of modern art there are always some that you look at and think well I could have done that myself - the handwritten adverts for cheap package holidays of the kind displayed in many travel agents, are a case in point. There are others where I am still puzzling over the meaning and especially, in this context, the videos. 

To come away from an art gallery, however, and still be buzzing about it several days later is a real high. Proof indeed that art really is intended to stimulate the mind, inspire and excite rather than simply be admired.




Saturday, 25 October 2014

Pounding Pavements



Earlier in the week, Mister E and I made a trip to London to see the youngest and also to gape at Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London commemorating World War I.


We walked for hours across London and even when we used the Tube there were inevitably flights of steps to conquer.


Despite the work in the gym on all those leg muscles, I have to confess that walking along the platform at King's Cross for a late evening train home, my gait was more of a hobble than a stride.

I don't know whether it was the hour at which we got home (just after midnight) or the exercise but getting up next morning when I had a commitment at a local school was not easy. The day passed in something of a haze of fatigue when I not only watched students compete in a land rover pulling competition but shared their pain!

Still I was back on the treadmill on the second day with a new aim: to reduce recovery time after pounding city pavements!


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Greek Island Tick List


Whilst Mister E and I were away in Greece, we not only enjoyed the delights of the mainland at Sivota and Parga but also manage to tick off another two Greek islands: Paxos and Antipaxos.



Historically the area (mainland and islands) had been under Venetian influence and it showed in the architecture of the buildings clustered around amazing natural harbours, hardly visible as you approach from the open sea by boat.


I also crewed on a yacht in the waters off Corfu but as we didn't land, can't cross that one off the bucket list just yet.


Sailing on a charter boat provided an insight into the cruising experience enjoyed by so many in those waters.There is certainly an attraction, especially with flat seas and guaranteed sunshine. However the lack of wind, risk of being cooked with nowhere to hide from the soaring heat and anchorages that could resemble car parks, one could also resist the allure. Despite the rain, perhaps Scotland has some advantages.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Reflections on a Fourth Month of Retirement


Although I seem to be cramming so much into my life at the moment, I have also noticed a tendency to procrastinate and perhaps even take far longer over something than I would have done previously or to fritter away time on something I might, in my working life, have considered pointless. Inevitably I have joined that league of retired people who openly confess, "I don't know how I ever found the time to go to work."


In any event and whilst it had been my intention to start an Interior Design Course this month, I have postponed the start date due not only to an apparent lack of time but a need also to brush up those artistic skills. I did however take my sketch book with me to Greece, where we spent a week, and I am certainly improving from my first efforts a few weeks ago, although I know you are going to say that my attempts at hibiscus fall far short of those of Georgia O'Keefe.

My main priority remains maintaining the fitness challenge that originally started for four weeks in July. I'm pleased to say that I do seem to be managing to get into the gym, pool or do a fitness class five times a week, The damage inflicted by years at the office desk seems enormous  but for a large part I believe reversible; it's just going to take time

I have taken on board some advice I read this month which is not to plunge headlong into too many new commitments as a result of retirement and instead to take up to two years to find out what works best. So October has been and retirement continues to be a period of experimentation when I dabble with various interests and the development of skills as this blog must surely document.

In many respects the real adoption of retirement has only started this month with the youngest's departure to university. Mister E and I are now very much exploring our shared interests and activities. Our trip to Greece also delayed the onset of autumn but our return has been greeted by much lower temperatures and more unsettled conditions, tempting us to stay indoors. That is at least giving me the opportunity to take control of various administrative tasks that I have neglected for too long and for us both to settle some longer term joint plans.

I think it was David Bowie who is attributed with saying, "I don't know where I'm going from here but I promise it won't be boring." At the end of Month 4, I can fully endorse that.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hillside Holiday


Last week Mister E and I stayed in a hotel on the Greek mainland built into the side of a cliff. I never did count the steps from the water's edge to our room in the gardens but there were certainly a lot of them. They also seemed to increase in number when the sun was at its hottest. However hearing other guests panting with the exertion of climbing them was some comfort.

Out of season many visitors were advancing in age and it was noticeable how much harder the terrain, including walking across a shingle spit to the beach and water-sports equipment, was for them than for the younger guests.

With an eye on the future, I have made two mental notes:
1. Continue my fitness challenge
2. Ensure that I check carefully the gradient surrounding holiday destinations when I too struggle with steps.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Stress and Neuroses

A major aim in retiring was to reduce stress and increase time for relaxation. Sometimes I wonder though has my professional training and experience taught me to see the pitfalls in everything, causing stress and neuroses regardless?

So today I have booked advance train tickets to London so that Mister E and I can travel to see the youngest. To secure a discount I have applied online for a Two Together railcard.

Is it normal to worry in case the card which should arrive within 4-7 days doesn't arrive in time, when we aren't travelling for weeks? What about the photographs we have uploaded? What if they are not in the format required?

There are times when you just have to let go and accept that everything might not work perfectly; que sera sera. Yes when I can actually say that to myself, a stress free existence will be within reach.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Cuckoo has Landed



We certainly had an interesting day today. We headed into Harrogate to look at the pictures in an exhibition in the Mercer Art Gallery entitled "From Turner to Hockney." There were some beautiful pieces depicting Yorkshire, its towns and cities, the sea and the people seen through the eyes of many artists. I  was delighted to discover pencil drawings by the Bronte family; clearly they weren't just talented writers but also accomplished at sketching too. I really need to get some more practice in, if I am ever going to be able to produce anything nearly half as good.


Then we had lunch, a delightful mix of Swiss and Yorkshire, in the renowned Betty's Tea Rooms before strolling around the gardens at Harlow Carr. I spotted teasels that put the solitary plant on my walk earlier this week to shame and the arrays of dahlias were simply magnificent.

We stayed out far longer than we had intended, taking advantage of what must soon be the end of this long dry warm spell. 


When we got back there was a parcel waiting for me. I guess I have to be careful what I wish for, or even refer to on this blog, because a cuckoo flew out. It has now taken up residence on the youngest's empty bed and seems to be making itself quite at home. Worst thing is that it sings if you press its back. No prizes for what it sounds like: "Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo.."


Finally a wonderful sunset closed the day. It was accompanied by a cacophony of sound from the circling crows and geese flying overhead. Fortunately the cuckoo was silent.